He said he dislikes the fact that the regulation is not risk-based and simply puts a blanket rule into place for every operator.
"I'd like it better if there was a risk analysis that looked at how likely a spill is and what the chances of it being a problem are. If you are 200 feet from a road ditch or creek, then it's a bigger issue than if you are out in the middle of nowhere where it is five miles to the nearest road ditch and there are no streams," Swaffar says.
At the same time, most large farms have already put containment structures in place to meet the long-standing requirement for them.
Still, farmers are going to need to follow the law.
"Being out of compliance means facing a fine," he says. "If you are out of compliance and you have a spill, then you have a public relations problem as well as a fine. My recommendation is that farmers comply with the containment system requirements and that they get their plan in place by May 10."
The Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures Plan is the facility owner's plan for preventing a spill and retaining the oil on site in case of a spill from aboveground oil storage tanks and containers. This regulation has been in existence since 1974 and was applicable to farms if they met the threshold oil storage capacity, and there was a reasonable expectation that a discharge could get to waters of the U.S.
The farming industry was granted an extension to comply with this regulation. Currently, farmers who meet the SPCC criteria have until May 10 to update old plans or develop and implement new SPCC plans.
A farmer will be expected to develop and implement an SPCC plan if his/her farm meets all the criteria listed below:
•Stores or transfers oil or oil products such as gasoline, on and off-road diesel, hydraulic and lube oil, animal fats and vegetable oils, adjuvant oil, etc.
•Stores more than 1,320 gallons in above ground tanks or 42,000 gallons below ground
•In case of a spill, could reasonably be expected to discharge to a U.S. waterway or shoreline
In April of 2011 the EPA exempted all milk and milk product containers from the SPCC requirements therefore these planning and structural requirements do not include bulk tanks on dairy farms.
Farmers may self-certify their SPCC plan without the services of a professional engineer if they have less than 10,000 gallons total above ground oil storage capacity and have had no spills to the waters of the U.S. in the past three years.
Some of the information provided in an SPCC plan would include:
•A list of oil containers on the farm and containment provided for them
•A description of measures that will prevent oil from reaching surface waters
•Clean up procedures if a spill should occur
•A contact list in case of a spill including first responders
•A five-year review and evaluation of their plan for changes and updates